Medieval Italy during a Thousand Years: A Brief Historical Narrative with Chapters on Great Episodes and Personalities and on Subjects Connected with Religion, Art and Literature

Medieval Italy during a Thousand Years: A Brief Historical Narrative with Chapters on Great Episodes and Personalities and on Subjects Connected with Religion, Art and Literature

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Medieval Italy during a Thousand Years: A Brief Historical Narrative with Chapters on Great Episodes and Personalities and on Subjects Connected with Religion, Art and Literature

Medieval Italy during a Thousand Years: A Brief Historical Narrative with Chapters on Great Episodes and Personalities and on Subjects Connected with Religion, Art and Literature

Read FREE!

Excerpt

'As early as the time of Cicero and Varro,' says Gibbon, 'it was the opinion of the Roman augurs that the twelve vultures which Romulus had seen represented the twelve centuries assigned for the fatal period of his city.' This prophecy, as we learn from writers of the age, such as the poet Claudian, filled men's minds with gloomy apprehensions when the twelfth century of Rome's existence was drawing to its close, and 'even posterity must acknowledge with some surprise that the interpretation of an accidental or fabulous circumstance has been seriously verified by the downfall of the Western Empire.'

The traditional date of the founding of Rome is 753 B.C., and if we hold that its Empire ended with the capture of the city by the Vandal Gaiseric and the death of Valentinian III, the last Emperor of the great Theodosian dynasty, both of which events occurred in A.D. 455, the fulfilment of the prediction will certainly appear surprising. Nor need it wholly shatter our faith in ancient auguries if we feel compelled to defer the date of the final downfall for some twenty-one years, during which brief period no less than nine so-called Emperors assumed the purple: one the assassin of Valentinian, the next the nominee of the Visigoth king at Arles, five others the puppets of the barbarian general Ricimer, another an obscure palace official elected by a Burgundian noble, and the ninth the son of a Pannonian soldier in Attila's army--the 'inoffensive youth,' as Gibbon calls him, who had inherited or assumed the high-sounding names of Romulus Augustus (derisively or pityingly belittled into Momullus Augustulus), and whom in 476 the barbarian Odovacar deposed and with contemptuous . . .

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